Nine Symptoms of Anxiety That Often Go Unnoticed

The symptoms and signs of anxiety are well defined. However, some of them may go unnoticed. If you want to know what they are, read on.
Nine Symptoms of Anxiety That Often Go Unnoticed

Last update: 23 May, 2022

There are certain symptoms of anxiety that often go unnoticed. In fact, under certain circumstances, anxiety can even be considered normal. However, it can become a mental health problem if it becomes frequent, overwhelming, and causes significant clinical distress.

The most recognized and common symptoms of anxiety are nervousness, a feeling of imminent danger, insomnia, increased heart rate, tremors, sweating, rapid breathing, and worry. Nevertheless, there are other more unusual symptoms that can go unnoticed. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth

One rare symptom of anxiety is a persistent metallic taste in the mouth. Science still doesn’t know the exact cause of this phenomenon. It’s believed to be due to dryness and the reduction of saliva levels in the mouth as a result of the physiological activation of anxiety.

In 2017, a study found that anxiety decreases saliva secretion and causes xerostomia (dryness under normal salivation conditions).

These taste changes may also be the consequence of the activation of chemical substances that the body releases in response to a threatening situation. For example, norepinephrine is known to temporarily change taste receptors in the mouth.

2. Stomach problems

Anxiety has a link to digestive problems. In fact, functional disorders of the digestive system, such as irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated with disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Research has found that people with this syndrome have higher levels of anxiety, depression, and anguish.

The physiological activation of anxiety, in association with the stress it generates, can affect the production and release of gastric acid, necessary to digest and break down food. The consequence can be a hemorrhagic or erosive gastropathy, known as stress gastritis.

Woman with stomach ache from anxiety
An irritable colon is often related to high levels of anxiety.

3. Frequent forgetfulness

Worry and obsessive thoughts typical of anxiety can cause forgetfulness. This is because the information isn’t well encoded due to scattered attention. Forgetfulness can also be caused by poor consolidation of information, due to lack of sleep or insomnia.

Lack of concentration is another symptom of anxiety that tends to go unnoticed. This symptom is the product of the individual’s rumination and self-absorption in their worries. In effect, they exclusively focus their attention on the object of anxiety.

4. Recurring nightmares

Dreams have a deep connection with the experiences of an anxious person. In fact, they reflect the way in which they experience their relationship with the world. The recurrent sensation of the imminence of a threat can turn into nightmares since it’s the only thing that’s gravitating in the sufferer’s life.

As a matter of fact, many of the repressed emotions, fears, anxiety and worries that disturb the anxious person are expressed through nightmares. This type of distressing dream repeatedly persists, maintaining the state of alert that the individual has activated due to perceiving a threat.

5. Skin conditions

Skin reactions may be due to increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline. In fact, cortisol-associated stress has been found to affect, reveal, or even exacerbate a number of skin disorders. These include psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, pruritus, alopecia areata, lichen planus, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and hives.

The human being isn’t designed to always be on alert. Therefore, a continuous fight or flight mode, caused by anxiety, can have serious negative effects on the body. Also, the continual release of chemicals to maintain this state can affect the skin.

6. Repeated yawning

Another rare symptom of anxiety that often goes unnoticed is yawning. A Bournemouth University (UK) study found a direct relationship between the frequency of yawning and the production of cortisol, the stress hormone that’s released in threatening situations.

The more a person yawns, the more cortisol is released. That’s because cortisol increases body temperature and yawning helps lower it.

These yawns also occur as a result of insomnia or sleep problems suffered by the anxious person. If they don’t sleep well, they feel drowsy during the day, which is further activated by yawning.

7. Cold feet

The cold temperature of the lower extremities is a symptom little identified with anxiety, although it can be a sign.

This phenomenon occurs because, when people are in a constant state of alert, blood tends to accumulate in the organs of the torso. When this happens, the extremities, especially the feet, receive less blood and therefore their temperature drops.

Cold feet
People in a continuous state of alert may have cold feet for no apparent reason.

8. Impulsive behaviors

Another rare symptom of anxiety is impulsive behavior. Anxious people feel their emotions as overwhelming, causing them to act strangely.

Thus, these individuals may end up saying or doing things without thinking them through. Furthermore, these impulsive or compulsive attitudes end up becoming poorly adaptive coping strategies to control other symptoms of anxiety.

9. Changes in eating habits

Anxiety is associated with hunger and excessive food consumption (disinhibition), as evidenced by a study published in Nature. The researchers maintain, in line with other research, that the disinhibited consumption of food could be a coping strategy to regulate negative emotions and anxiety.

Another investigation sought to test the relationship between anxiety and caloric intake. The researchers found that, in women, greater anxiety is associated with a higher BMI (body mass index), higher caloric intake, a greater consumption of rich foods in fat, and persistent activation due to fattening food cues after a meal.

Rare symptoms of anxiety can range from behavioral to cognitive patterns. They not only affect how a person relates to the world but also how they relate to themselves through their eating and sleeping habits.

Which of these symptoms do you experience when you feel anxious? Did you know they were associated with anxiety?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.